1316) Vitamin ‘N’ Builds Strong Character

In today’s meditation, family psychologist John Rosemond describes why it is so important for children to hear the word “NO” on a regular basis as they are growing up.  Rosemond calls this ‘Vitamin N’ and discusses the many problems that can result from a deficiency of this much needed vitamin.  Anyone who has been around kids (or has been a kid) should know all of this already, but many in our society make every effort to deny this basic fact of human nature.  This, and many other great videos, can be found at: http://www.prageru.com .  You may watch the video here (or read the transcript below):

http://www.prageru.com/courses/life-studies/your-child-getting-enough-vitamin-n

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IS YOUR CHILD GETTING ENOUGH VITAMIN ‘N’?  

by John Rosemond

     I want to tell you about an essential vitamin you’ve probably never heard of.  If you’re a parent, or plan to be one, it might be more important to your child’s growth than all other vitamins combined.  And only you, a parent, can provide it.

     I call it Vitamin N.  The word “No.”

     More and more children, I find, are suffering from Vitamin N deficiency.  And they, their parents, and our entire culture are paying the price.

     Let me illustrate my point with a story that’s quite typical.  A father, I’ll call him Bill, gave his son, age five, pretty much everything the little boy asked for.  Like most parents, Bill wanted more than anything for his son to be happy.  But he wasn’t.  Instead he was petulant, moody, and often sullen.  He was also having problems getting along with other children.  In addition, he was very demanding and rarely if ever expressed any appreciation, let alone gratitude, for all the things Bill and his wife were giving him.  Was his son depressed, Bill wanted to know?  Did he need therapy?  His son, I told him, was suffering the predictable ill effects of being overindulged.  What he needed was a healthy and steady dose of Vitamin N.

     Over-indulgence–a deficiency of Vitamin N—leads to its own form of addiction.  When the point of diminishing returns is passed (and it’s passed fairly early on), the receiving of things begins to generate nothing but want for more things.  One terrible effect of this is that our children are becoming accustomed to a material standard that’s out of kilter with what they can ever hope to achieve as adults.  Consider also that many, if not most, children attain this level of affluence not by working, sacrificing, or doing their best, but by whining, demanding, and manipulating.  So in the process of inflating their material expectations, we also teach children that something can be had for next to nothing.  Not only is that a falsehood, it’s also one of the most dangerous, destructive attitudes a person can acquire.

     This may go a long way toward explaining why the mental health of children in the 1950s – when kids got a lot less — was significantly better than the mental health of today’s kids.  Since the ‘50s, and especially in the last few decades, as indulgence has become the parenting norm, the rates of child and teen depression have skyrocketed.  

     Children who grow up believing in the something-for-nothing fairy tale are likely to become emotionally stunted, self-centered adults.  Then, when they themselves become parents, they’re likely to overdose their children with material things – the piles of toys, plushies, and gadgets one finds scattered around most households.  In that way, over indulgence—a deficiency of Vitamin N—becomes an inherited disease, an addiction passed from one generation to the next.

     This also explains why children who get too much of what they want rarely take proper care of anything they have.  Why should they?  After all, experience tells them that more is always on the way.  

     Children deserve better.  They deserve to have parents attend to their needs for protection, affection, and direction.  Beyond that, they deserve to hear their parents say “no” far more often than yes when it comes to their whimsical desires.  They deserve to learn the value of constructive, creative effort as opposed to the value of effort expended whining, lying on the floor kicking and screaming, or playing one parent against the other.  They deserve to learn that work is the only truly fulfilling way of getting anything of value in life, and that the harder they work, the more ultimately fulfilling the outcome.

     In the process of trying to protect children from frustration, parents have turned reality upside down.  A child raised in this topsy-turvy fashion may not have the skills needed to stand on his or her own two feet when the time comes to do so.  

     Here’s a simple rule: Turn your children’s world right-side up by giving them all of what they truly need, but no more than 25 percent of what they simply want.  I call this the “Principle of Benign Deprivation.”  When all is said and done, the most character-building two-letter word in the English language is ‘no.’  Vitamin N.  

     Dispense it frequently.  You’ll be happier in the long run, and so will your child.

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‘Benign (kindly) deprivation’ means saying NO to many of our children’s desires, intentionally denying them much of what they want so they can learn to be mature and virtuous adults of strong character.  Jesus taught this as well, linking such denial of self to his call to follow him and be his disciple.  The path to spiritual growth lies in saying NO to many of our physical and material desires.  Three of the four Gospel writers record these important words of Jesus.

Matthew 16:24  —  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Mark 8:34  —  Then (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Luke 9:23  —  Then (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

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Almighty God, whose beloved Son willingly endured the agony and the shame of the cross for our salvation; give us courage to take up our cross and follow him.  Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

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NOTE:  Many parents have also wanted to protect their children from the pain of losing; or, being told “NO, you did not win.”  When these children get out into the real world, they will find it very difficult to lose; as in this story just in from my most trusted ‘fake’ news source (for great Christian satire) at:  www.babylonbee.com

Police Calm Millennial Protesters By Handing Out Participation Trophies

U.S.—As anti-Trump rallies nationwide turned hostile overnight with widespread reports of violence, looting, vandalism, and death threats against the president-elect and his supporters, police in numerous major cities were able to instill calm and regain control by handing out participation trophies to all millennial protesters who were enraged about losing the election, sources confirmed.

The shrewd tactic was the idea of New York Police Officer Joe Butler, who has three twenty-something children himself, and noted to reporters Thursday that he remembered how his children “never had to deal with losing as they were growing up.”

“It’s a foreign notion to them.  Even in sports—win or lose, everyone won, and everyone got a trophy no matter what.  This is the millennial way,” he said.  “So I had the idea—hey, why not start handing out participation trophies to the protesters, and telling them ‘Hey, you know what?  You may have lost the election, but look—everyone gets a trophy.  Everyone’s a winner.’”

Seeing how the trophies had an instantaneous calming effect on the millennials and filled them with a sense of fulfillment and achievement, word spread quickly among police departments nationwide, and emergency trophies were procured by the thousands for use at the rallies.

At publishing time, police had regained control in cities across the country, and the crowds of now-content protesters were heading home with their trophies, according to sources.

1303) Not My Job

Image result for louis c. k. images

Louie C. K.  (1967- )

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     A while back I saw a you-tube clip of Louie C. K. on Conan O’Brian’s late night show.  Louie C. K. is not my favorite comedian.  Like so many entertainers today, his routines are filled with profanity, and his outlook on life is cynical and ungodly.  But he oftentimes does speak the truth, and he is not afraid to say what people don’t want to hear.

     Conan brought up the issue of kids and cell phones, and how so many parents have a difficult time limiting their children’s cell phone use.  I like how Louie responded so I am going to quote him here– but not exactly.  I am going to rephrase some of it, along with adding a few of my own thoughts to make it say what I want to say.  If you want to hear precisely what Louie C. K. said you may find it here:  (http://teamcoco.com/embed/v/70303)

     Regarding the difficulty of limiting his kids cell phone use, Louie said he doesn’t have a problem with that.  He said:

   I just don’t them have a cell phone at all.  It’s easy.  You just say, ‘No, you can’t have it; it’s bad for you.’  They say, ‘But I want it,’ and I simply reply, ‘I don’t care what you want.’

   I know that doesn’t make them happy, but I am not there to make them happy.  I am raising children to make the grownups they’re going to be, so I have to give them the tools to help them get through a terrible life.

   It is not my job to make my kids happy.  It is my job to prepare them for life.  So they are disappointed because they can’t have a cell phone?  That’s too bad.  Life is filled with disappointments, and then you die.  That’s not a very happy thought, but that’s how it is.  Kids have to learn how to deal with it.  Why should I give them impression somebody is supposed to make them happy all the time?  That does not prepare them for real life.

   So, no cell phones.  That’s the way I look at it.

   Some parents feel bad when the kids say, ‘Well all the other kids have one.’  So what?  Let your kids be the better example to the others.  Just because other stupid kids have phones doesn’t mean my kid has to be stupid too, otherwise she will feel weird.

   Besides, I think those things are toxic, especially for kids.  They just look at the phone all day.  They don’t look at people, and so they don’t learn empathy.

   Kids  have always been mean, because they are trying it out.  They look at an overweight kid and say, “Hey, you are fat.”  But then they see that kid’s face and how their words hurt them, and they say, “Ohhh, that doesn’t feel good,” and they don’t want to do that again.  But if they just write and text someone the words “You are fat,” and don’t see the reaction, then it is fun, and they want to do it more…

   You know, underneath everything in your life there is that ‘thing,’ that emptiness… that ‘forever empty’ feeling.  Do you know what I mean?  (Conan immediately recognizes the feeling and readily agrees, “Yes, yes, I know what you are talking about.”)  It is that knowledge that it is all for nothing and you are all alone.  That feeling is always down there.  And sometimes for me when things clear away and this feeling comes, and it can be overwhelming.  You realize life is so tremendously sad.  Perhaps you are all alone in your car when it hits you, and what do you do?  Well, you reach for your phone and start texting someone, because you don’t want to face the sadness all alone.  So you will risk your life and the life of others on the road so that you can be looking at your stupid phone, instead of facing the sadness and the loneliness.

     The other day I was driving and this an old song came on, and I got a flashback to something years ago, and I got really sad.  So to avoid the feeling, my first reaction was to pick up my phone and text a silly message to about fifty people, so that some of them could answer me, and then I could answer them, and I could be doing something other than being so sad.

     So I started reaching for the phone… and then I didn’t.  I thought to myself, ‘Just be sad.’  I decided to just let the sadness come over me, and it did.  I even started to cry, and I had to pull over.  I let it all happen and I just cried uncontrollable.  And then I quit– and strangely, a better feeling came over me, and then I felt good.  And I realized none of that would have happened if I had started texting.

   But we don’t ever want to let the sadness come.  There are so many ways to distract ourselves and so we do, and we avoid the sadness, and we don’t really live.  Sadness is a part of life—that is life.  Life is really sad, and then you die.

   So that’s why I don’t want to get cell phones for my kids.

     Louie C. K. is part right—life IS sad and then you die.  Life is also wonderful… but even the best times come to an end, and then you die; so that is still sad.

     This is not the whole truth, but it is where we must start.  If we start by insisting on not ever being disappointed, we will face even greater disappointment.  If we try to do all we can to protect our kids from disappointment, trying to make sure they are always happy, we are not preparing them for life.  Kids need to know life is sad, uninterrupted happiness is not part of the deal, and they will die.

     But then we must also teach our children the most important truth in all of life:  even though life in this world is sad, and even though we will die, there is a God who created us, and wants us to know Him, and wants us to be with him forever.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I am overcome the world;” and, he said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

     If we teach our children to have faith in that, they will be prepared for life, now and forever.

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Job 5:7  —  Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.

I Peter 4:12  —  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

John 16:33  —  (Jesus said), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

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Good Jesus, strength of the weary, rest of the restless, come to me who am weary that I may rest in you.  Amen.

E. B. Pusey, English churchman  (1800-1882)

230) What Do You Want For Your Children?

By Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story, page 88, © 2000

     A study done on mothers around the world asked the question, “What do you want your children to be when they grow up?”  Mothers in Japan almost always answered, “We want our children to be successful.”  The result is that the people of Japan have raised up a generation of the most success-driven children in the history of the world.  They work harder and longer than any other people at any task assigned to them.  They can be expected to excel in any activity they undertake.  The way in which Japan recovered after World War II was largely due to the success orientation that was drilled into the children by their parents.

     When American mothers were asked exactly the same question, you can imagine what the answer was:  “We want our children to be happy!”  HAPPY?!?!?!

     You’ve got to understand, I was raised in an old-fashioned Italian family.  I don’t think my father really cared whether I was happy.  Oh, I suppose it was of concern to him, and I’m sure that he also wanted me to be successful.  But if you had asked my father, and especially my mother, “What do you want your son to be when he grows up?” both would have answered, “We want him to be good.”

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Proverbs 22:6  —  Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Ephesians 6:4  —  Fathers, do not exasperate your children;  instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19  —  Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;  tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Philippians 4:6-9  —  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable;  if anything is excellent or praise-worthy;  think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me– put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you. 

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A PRAYER FOR THE FAMILY by Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918) ( God’s Minute, 1916, alt.):
Our Father, we thank you for binding this family together by the sacred tie of common blood.  We remember with how much sacrificial love its life has been created and sustained.  We thank you for a mother’s travail and tenderness, for a father’s faithful toil.  Knit us together by our common joys and sorrows, so that even if we are far removed from one another, nothing may estrange our hearts.  When the youngest of us is old and gray-headed, may the memories of our home still be sweet and dear.  May the children’s children of this family still have the vigor and virtues of our best forefathers, and may the faith, too, of our fathers and mothers burn brightly in their hearts.  Deal graciously with our loved ones.  Give us our daily bread and strength for our daily tasks.  To you we commit the life and destiny of each; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.